the world shouldn’t be like this

On the one hand, I feel lucky.

I woke up today feeling awful. Feeling the weight of another long and arduous day here at my job. It’s making me bitter and cranky. And I hate that feeling. But as I was putting my shoes on, my eye caught the news letter from the Prison University Project where I used to teach, over at San Quentin. And on the cover was a little essay by this year’s valedictorian. I can’t recall off-hand what he wrote, but in one paragraph he spoke of how taking classes helped him expand his ideas about the world, engage subjects he’d never given much thought to, taught him that he could do things he didn’t know he could do. For example, as a Christian, it was difficult to take a class on Buddhism (my class on Buddhism) because it forced him to change his preconceived notions of the other religion.

As Dana said, reading over my shoulder, “See, you are a good teacher!”

Which I say not to toot my own horn. I say this as something of a reminder to myself that teaching is really what I ought to be doing. Not that I don’t love all this techy web stuff; but I’m really over working for this camp company. I should be putting my energies toward finding employment that better suits my talents instead of moping around the office all day.

On the other hand, I’m appalled at the world. Disheartened and disenchanted. My boss had to ride BART into work today. And while she was on the train, she caught sight of a man across the way who kept staring at her and shaking his head — something she gets a lot of being a black lesbian. But as the guy the was getting off the train, he said to her “Fuckin’ dyke,” and then spat on her before running out to MacArthur station.

I can’t really say that I’m surprised that even in this little corner of the world, this little liberal oasis, that there’s intolerance, bigotry, and violence. But just because I’m not exactly surprised doesn’t mean that I’m not saddened by the hate crime (and that’s exactly what it was). And, all at once, feeling totally helpless. It’s a cold and cruel and horrible world at times, and I’m feeling oddly fortunate. I’m a fortunate man because, well, I’m a man. And I can turn a blind eye to these things because they’re not happening to me.

But that’s a lie and I know it. They are happening to me because they’re happening to all of us. I wouldn’t be much of a Buddhist if I believed otherwise. The hate crime committed against my boss this morning was a crime against all of us. A crime perpetrated by all of us. And we all have a collective responsibility to stop it. To stop acting in such thoughtless, violent, and inhumane ways.

I tell ya. I gotta get out of here. It’s time to move on and keep changing the world one little classroom at a time.

Be good to each other out there this weekend, will ya?